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Axios' Mike Allen and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney. Photo: Axios

Structural, long-term change is needed before the massive protests supporting the Black Lives Matter movement can be seen as a "racial reckoning," Richmond, Virgina, Mayor Levar Stoney said at an Axios virtual event on Wednesday.

What he's saying: "The proof will be in the pudding," Stoney said. "If the divides and gaps between Black and brown people, and white people, still remain in 2030, then all of this was for naught. Then we missed our moment."

  • "We've got to reduce the gaps in education, in housing, in health care. ... We can do the hard work of ripping out systemic racism and every system out there — health care, housing, education. And that, to me, will be the test of whether this has been a true reckoning on race."

Why it matters: Richmond was the capital of the Confederacy, and statues commemorating that history lined the city's Monument Avenue. Stoney used emergency powers to have nearly all of the statues of Confederate war heroes removed after protestors against the death of George Floyd and police excessive use of force were getting hurt while tearing them down.

  • "It matters to me because these monuments are symbols of racism and hate, but for a lot of people, these were seen as symbols of heritage. And folks would come to me and say, you know Levar, this is your heritage. And I would look back at them like 'not my heritage!' Your heritage would have me in chains, would have me in bondage."
  • "And to me, I think for far too long, Richmonders, Virginians, Americans have been told a false story about the end of the Civil War or why the Civil War occurred, and these monuments basically put Black people in their place. They were meant to intimidate."
  • "I know in 2020 that my city is better than that, I know my state is better than that, and I definitely know that my country is better than that."

Go deeper

Black Americans are more skeptical of a coronavirus vaccine

Data: KFF; Chart: Axios Visuals

Strikingly large shares of Black Americans say they would be reluctant to get a coronavirus vaccine — even if it was free and had been deemed safe by scientists, according to a new nationwide survey from KFF and The Undefeated.

Why it matters: The findings reflect well-founded distrust of government and health care institutions, and they underscore the need for credible outreach efforts when a vaccine is distributed. Otherwise, distribution could fail to effectively reach the Black community, which has been disproportionately affected by coronavirus.

Updated 59 mins ago - Politics & Policy

House passes George Floyd Justice in Policing Act

Photo: Stephen Maturen via Getty Images

The House voted 220 to 212 on Wednesday evening to pass a policing bill named for George Floyd, the Black man whose death in Minneapolis last year led to nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice.

Why it matters: The legislation overhauls qualified immunity for police officers, bans chokeholds at the federal level, prohibits no-knock warrants in federal drug cases and outlaws racial profiling.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Senate Republicans plan to exact pain before COVID relief vote

Sen. Ron Johnson. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Republicans are demanding a full, 600-page bill reading — and painful, multi-hour "vote-a-rama" — as Democrats forge ahead with their plan to pass President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package.

Why it matters: The procedural war is aimed at forcing Democrats to defend several parts the GOP considers unnecessary and partisan. While the process won't substantially impact the final version of the mammoth bill, it'll provide plenty of ammunition for future campaign messaging.